Wednesday, July 15, 2015
US president says PM will not succeed in using Congress to defeat the deal; Kerry: Israel 'is safer' thanks to agreement, noting critics of deal 'never offer a realistic alternative'.
US President Barack Obama on Tuesday defended the agreement reached with Iran over its nuclear program, making it clear that the purpose of the deal was simply to prevent the Islamic Republic from attaining nuclear weapons – not to curb its global power.
Congress still needs to sign off on the deal, which could result in a fierce battle in the legislature. In an exclusive New York Times interview, Obama said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “perhaps thinks he can further influence the congressional debate" but that he was confident the agreement would be approved.
Barack Obama with Vice President Barack Obama announcing the deal (Photo: Reuters)
"But after that’s done, if that’s what he thinks is appropriate, then I will sit down, as we have consistently throughout my administration, and then ask some very practical questions: How do we prevent Hezbollah from acquiring more sophisticated weapons? How do we build on the success of Iron Dome, which the United States worked with Israel to develop and has saved Israeli lives?
"In the same way I’m having conversation with the gulf countries about how do we have a more effective interdiction policy, how do we build more effective governance structures and military structures in Sunni areas that have essentially become a void that (the Islamic State) has filled or that, in some cases, Iranian activities can exploit?”
The White House on Tuesday announced that Obama would send Defense Secretary Ash Carter to the Middle East next week. The only confirmed stop on the trip was Israel, although officials said Carter would also visit other countries in the region.
US Secretary of State John Kerry lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday night, saying the Israeli leader's claims about the deal were "way over the top."
Credit to Ynetnews.com
A tourist was forced to her knees at knifepoint at Rome’s Colosseum in a terrifying attack that recalled an ISIS-style execution.
Hundreds of horrified visitors to the Italian landmark looked on as the attacker held a kitchen knife to the neck of a 26-year-old woman and yelled ‘Allah is great’ and ‘It is God that sends me’.
The man held Chiara Frisco hostage for several minutes as he yelled religious fanaticism at the crowd with police powerless to act.
One witness said: ‘It seemed like a scene from ISIS.
‘He made the girl get down on her knees like you see in the terrorists’ videos, while he held a knife to her throat.
‘The only thing missing was the orange jumpsuit.’
Others told Il Messaggero he was yelling among them “Allah is great”.’
Miss Frisco, from Vasto on the Adriatic coast, who was visiting her sister in Rome to celebrate her graduation, said she feared ‘the worst’ when the knifeman grabbed her.
Speaking from hospital where she was being treated for shock, she said: ‘We came from Vasto to celebrate my sister’s graduation.
‘We were supposed to meet her in the evening. While waiting we decided to take a walk and go and see the Colosseum.’
She was sitting on a low wall with my boyfriend and other friends on Monday afternoon when the ‘maniac’ struck.
She told La Repubblica: ‘I felt myself pulled suddenly into the middle of the crowd. Then I felt the blade of the knife that he was holding against me. I feared the worst would happen.
‘I could not see the weapon. The whole attack lasted seconds but I felt a tremendous fear.
‘The man was yelling like a maniac. Luckily the police came though.’
When the police arrived, the attacker ran off through the Forum packed with tourists towards the centre of Rome, piazza Venezia, where he was disarmed and arrested. …
Credit to Jihadwatch.org
Russian President Vladimir Putin promised on Tuesday to "please" Russia's competitors with new developments in the field of defense and security.
Residential treatment programs for young people that engage in controversial “gay conversion” therapy would face comprehensive federal regulation under a bill introduced Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
By prohibiting the facilities from discriminating against LGBT and disabled youths and allowing residents or their families to sue in federal court, the proposed legislation could essentially ban so-called gay conversion therapy nationwide.
Many such programs – intended to rehabilitate children with mental health problems, behavioral or substance abuse issues – have been accused of instead starving their charges, restraining them physically and mentally abusing them. Some cases of neglect have led to death or suicide, state statistics have shown.
“We cannot ignore reports that young people have died and thousands have suffered abuse at the hands of those who run and work at residential treatment programs under the guise of providing critical therapy and rehabilitation services,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), one of the bill’s cosponsors, said at a news conference Tuesday.
An estimated 4,600 teenagers were enrolled in such programs in 2013, said Paul Gionfriddo, president and chief executive of Mental Health America. Families tend to turn to these residential “boot camp” programs as a last resort after unsuccessful experiences with traditional inpatient mental health services, he said.
In some circumstances parents send their children to treatment programs in an effort to change their sexual orientation from gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual to straight, known as “gay conversion” therapy. California banned the practice in 2012.
Schiff emphasized the need for federal regulation, noting that “programs are often shut down in one state only to open in another under a different name.”
State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced similar legislation in California this year to increase regulations and oversight on private residential programs, mandating licensure of such facilities.
Critics questioned the need for federal regulation in states that already regulate residential care facilities. Megan Stokes, director of government and public relations at the National Assn. of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, an industry organization of treatment programs, said such states should be exempt from the bill.
Several law professors agreed that Congress had the constitutional power to enact such legislation. “Such a federal law, which hopefully would eliminate gay conversation therapy, as California law has done, would be clearly constitutional,” according to Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Irvine Law School, who pointed to Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce.
In April, the White House announced its stance against conversion therapy programs for minors.
Credit to latimes
IMF Rips Pandora's Box To Shreds, Demands Greek Debt Relief "Far Beyond What Europe Has Been Willing To Consider"
Earlier today, Reuters first leaked that just two weeks after the IMF released its first revised Greek debt sustainability report, one which the Eurogroup desperately tried to squash as it urged for a 30% debt haircut and came hours before the Greek referendum vote giving the Oxi camp hope and crushing Tsipras' carefully laid plan to lose the vote and capitulate with integrity instead of having to capitulate a week later after 17 hours of "mental waterboarding" and have his reputation torn to shreds, the IMF would release a follow up report updating its view on the Greek economy which in just two short weeks of capital controls has utterly imploded.
Just like the first IMF report, which we correctly compared to the opening of a Pandora's box, and with which the IMF also obliterated the careful plans of the Troika, so with this follow up the IMF effectively crushes the glideslope of the latest Greek bailout process barely scraped together on Monday morning and has torn Pandora's box to shreds with the following summary assessment: "Greece’s debt can now only be made sustainable through debt relief measures that go far beyond what Europe has been willing to consider so far."
Yes, debt relief... just the others' debt: not the IMF's, please.
So what just happened?
As of this moment the IMF is telling Greece that if nothing changes, it will die of cancer with 100% certainty; on the other hand the Eurogroup is telling Greece it will die of a heart attack also wih 100% certainty if anything changes.
Good luck with the choice.
Here are the report punchlines:
- Greece’s public debt has become highly unsustainable. This is due to the easing of policies during the last year, with the recent deterioration in the domestic macroeconomic and financial environment because of the closure of the banking system adding significantly to the adverse dynamics. The financing need through end-2018 is now estimated at Euro 85 billion and debt is expected to peak at close to 200 percent of GDP in the next two years, provided that there is an early agreement on a program. Greece’s debt can now only be made sustainable through debt relief measures that go far beyond what Europe has been willing to consider so far.
- ... significant shortfalls in program implementation during the last year led to a significant increase in the financing need—by more than Euro 60 billion—estimated only a few weeks ago. As a result, debt-to-GDP by 2022 was projected to increase from an estimate less than a year ago of about 105 percent to a revised estimate of 142 percent, significantly above the target of 110 percent of GDP. This would under the November 2012 agreement have implied significant additional measures to reduce the face-value of debt.
- Greece cannot return to markets anytime soon at interest rates that it can afford from a medium-term perspective.
- The events of the past two weeks—the closure of banks and imposition of capital controls—are extracting a heavy toll on the banking system and the economy, leading to a further significant deterioration in debt sustainability relative to what was projected in our recently published DSA. A full and comprehensive revision of this debt sustainability analysis can only be done at a later stage, taking into account the deterioration in the economic situation as a result of the closing of the banking system and the details of policies yet to be agreed. However, it is already clear at this stage that there will be a significant increase in the financing need. The preliminary (mutually agreed) assessment of the three institutions is that total financing need through end-2018 will increase to Euro 85 billion, or some Euro 25 billion above what was projected in the IMF’s published DSA only two weeks ago, largely on account of the estimated need for a larger banking sector backstop for Euro 25 billion. Adjusting our recent DSA mechanically for these changes, and taking into account the agreed weaker growth path for the next two years, gives rise to the following main revisions:
- Debt would peak at close to 200 percent of GDP in the next two years. This contrasts with earlier projections that the peak in debt—at 177 percent of GDP in 2014—is already behind us.
- By 2022, debt is now projected to be at 170 percent of GDP, compared to an estimate of 142 percent of GDP projected in our published DSA.
- Gross financing needs would rise to levels well above what they were at the last review (and above the 15 percent of GDP threshold deemed safe) and continue rising in the long term.
In other words, for every week that the Greek capital controls remain , the total cost of the Greek bailout (the funding needs) increases by €10 billion.
It gets worse: "these projections remain subject to considerable downside risk, suggesting that there could be a need for additional further exceptional financing from Member States with an attendant deterioration in the debt dynamics."
- Medium-term primary surplus target: Greece is expected to maintain primary surpluses for the next several decades of 3.5 percent of GDP. Few countries have managed to do so. The reversal of key public sector reforms already in place— notably pension and civil service reforms—without yet any specification of alternative reforms raises concerns about Greece’s ability to reach this target. Moreover, the failure to resist political pressures to ease the target that became evident as soon as the primary balance swung into surplus also raise doubts about the assumption that such targets can be sustained for prolonged periods. The Government and its European partners need to address these concerns in the coming months.
- Growth: Greece is still assumed to go from the lowest to among the highest productivity growth and labor force participation rates in the euro area, which will require very ambitious and steadfast reforms. For this to happen, the Government— which has put on hold key structural reforms—would need to specify strong and credible alternatives in the context of the forthcoming program discussions.
- Bank support: the proposed additional injection of large-scale support for the banking system would be the third such publicly funded rescue in the last 5 years. Further capital injections could be needed in the future, absent a radical solution to the governance issues that are at the root of the problems of the Greek banking system. There are at this stage no concrete plans in this regard.
The dramatic deterioration in debt sustainability points to the need for debt relief on a scale that would need to go well beyond what has been under consideration to date—and what has been proposed by the ESM. There are several options. If Europe prefers to again provide debt relief through maturity extension, there would have to be a very dramatic extension with grace periods of, say, 30 years on the entire stock of European debt, including new assistance. This reflects the basic premise that debt cannot be assumed to migrate back onto the balance sheet of the private sector at interest rates close to the current AAA rates before debt levels have been brought to much lower levels; borrowing at anything but AAA rates in the near term will bring about an unsustainable debt dynamic for the next several decades. Other options include explicit annual transfers to the Greek budget or deep upfront haircuts. The choice between the various options is for Greece and its European partners to decide.
Actually, it is no longer Greece's: Greece is about to hand over its sovereignty to Brussels on a silver platter. The choice is now all up to the European "partners" to decide.
Full report (pdf)
Credit to Zero Hedge
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The Sharia Threat
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Credit to Common Sense